Yes, I want loyalty, but at this point of my life, I’m trying to carefully take tentacles off me and put them on the Lord. I see this as essential if there’s going to be a Vineyard after John Wimber.
He appointed twelve—designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to cast out the demons. (Mark 3:14-15)
Notice the phrase, “that they might be with him.” You’re called to Jesus. Jesus was, and is, the only disciple-maker. We make disciples in the sense that we work with the people who are being called to be his disciples. But the ultimate loyalty and commitment belongs to him. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON CHRIST AND HIS WORD.
A disciple is one who follows another person’s life very closely. A disciple consciously chooses to stick close to another person, learning just about everything one can learn in life from that special person the disciple is following.
I suppose that you could say that I’m a disciple of John Wimber. I’ve spent a good portion of my life studying John and his approach to the Christian life. As I said earlier, our church in Evanston, Illinois, first became familiar with Wimber and the Vineyard in the early 1980s. My first contact with him came through a set of cassette tapes my pastor and good friend, Bill Hanawalt, had ordered from Vineyard Ministries in California. These three or four cassette tapes contained worship music that had been recorded at Sunday night church services at John’s Vineyard church in Yorba Linda. As I listened to this music, a strange thing began happening to me. I began to cry. Keep in mind that I am, generally, not a crier. Tears don’t come easily for me, but when I listened to these intimate love songs being sung to Jesus, my eyelids just couldn’t contain the moisture that was gathering inside. I cried my eyes out!
As a musician who loves to compose and arrange, I’ve trained myself to listen carefully to the unique sounds coming from within a piece of music. In this case, when I was listening intently to the worship music coming out of those Vineyard cassette tapes, the most impressive sound that caused my tears to flow came from a warm electronic keyboard combined with an equally warm, rich tenor voice singing love songs to Jesus. As it turned out later, I found out that this keyboard player with the warm, inviting voice was John Wimber.
To be honest, I was hooked after that.
Within a few months of first listening to these Vineyard worship music tapes, I attended my first “official” Vineyard leadership conference, seeing and hearing John Wimber for the first time. That conference, in the spring of 1985 in Columbus, Ohio, led to many, many more and, as they say in show business, the rest is history.
Now, over the years, well-meaning folks have come up to me, saying, “Marty, be careful. Don’t idolize a man. Remember. You’re a disciple of Jesus. Not John Wimber.” My response to these nice folks who are looking out for me is this. I followed John and his teachings for one reason. Because, as I see it, John Wimber was a man who had been around Jesus. And quite honestly, I can’t say that about many pastors I’ve met over the years. Oh sure, there are well-meaning leaders who refer to Jesus in their teachings and point to Christ with their ministries, but in John’s case, I always sensed that he was one who wasn’t all that interested in building himself a ministry, or gathering people into his crowd. In many ways, John seemed to be kind of like those disciples in the New Testament who were never really interested in themselves, but primarily interested in Jesus.
And so, here I am, nearly thirty years after the first time I heard John Wimber singing his heart out to the Master, and all I can say is thanks, John. I needed that. Thanks for being one of those unique guys who always seemed to be interested in hanging around Jesus. Thanks for being a man who didn’t promote himself, but always seemed to be promoting Jesus. Thanks John for modeling a lifestyle in Christ that was naturally supernatural, where everyone could play, regardless of their educational background, their social status, their age, sex, or color. Thanks John for spending time with Jesus and then teaching us that “being with the Master” was and still is the highest priority in life and ministry.
As I see it, you did one great job of getting it right. And I, for one, thank you for it.
Jesus, thank you for having men and women in leadership who know that their highest calling in life and ministry is to be with you. Empower me, Holy Spirit, to be a man who, like John Wimber, knows full well the priority of “being with the Master.” For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4: 13)
- If I were put in a similar situation (standing in front of the Sanhedrin), would those in authority see in me what they saw in these two disciples?
- How have I allowed other ministry qualifiers to become higher priorities over simply being one who spends time being with Jesus?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!
I feel the same as you about John. He was an amazing teacher, among other things. We don’t follow John Wimber, we follow the pathway that he walked … To Jesus. Listening to John always leads me to Jesus. And it is Jesus I find and Jesus I see.
thanks Stephanie for your comment! Blessings! mb